Just enough from France as the Swiss wait

18 Jan. 2021

Just enough from France as the Swiss wait

Guillaume Gille’s team beat Switzerland at the Dr Hassan Moustafa Sport Hall tonight to make it three wins from three and take a maximum four points into the main round.

But, in a game where the lead changed hands numerous times, the result was not clear until the final few seconds, with the Swiss just losing out in the end, despite 10 Andy Schmid goals.

They now wait for the result of Norway vs Austria later tonight. If Austria fail to win, Switzerland will progress.

France vs Switzerland 25:24 (11:10)

Gille had named an unchanged team for their Austria victory on Saturday, with Timothey N’Guessan missing again due to a thigh problem, while Switzerland coach Michael Suter brought back in right wing Maximilian Gerbl, who missed the Norway clash, and was unused against Austria.

The first goal of the game was a bit of Swiss handball history as Andy Schmid’s penalty saw him clock up his 900th goal for his country and by the time he scored his fourth (10th minute) his side were 5:4 ahead.

They kept in front thanks to a couple of saves from Nikola Portner, extending their lead to three (8:5) as Schmid grabbed another goal on the fast-break following a French turnover. This prompted Gille to call an early time-out with Gille and his assistant Erick Mathe deep in discussion upon the restart.

But their defence was being pulled apart by Schmid and it was down to Wesley Pardin to prove an effective repellent.

When Hugo Descat scored in the 16th minute to make it 7:8, the French bench vocalised their relief and over the next three minutes they overturned the deficit, going on a 4:0 run to make it 11:9 (20th minute).

Disaster was to follow for the French though as Pardin suffered an injury after Switzerland’s Cedrie Tynowksi landed on his knee and lower leg following a goal. Pardin was rolled around in agony, eventually being carried off by Luka Karabatic and Valentin Porte to receive treatment behind the benches and then moving to the locker room five minutes before the end of the half. Gille later confirmed the injury was “serious”.

Switzerland would not give up the fight though, knowing a point was enough to seal their progression and they drew level just before the break when Roman Sidorowicz, under passive play, sunk it home with a lovely side shot, followed by a Kentin Mahe missed opportunity to put France ahead by two going into the break with a missed penalty shot.

Gille started the second half with the experienced Michael Guigou and Luc Abalo on court but the game remained close throughout the second 30 minutes with Switzerland playing 7 against 6, led by Schmid, wearing down the French defence.

The last 15 minutes were a rollercoaster ride with both sides taking the lead and committing technical errors, most notably Sidorowicz who received a two-minute suspension for not leaving the ball clear on a turnover.

But France could not capitalise as Portner saved the Swiss again in goal with a majestic save against Abalo, who had a wide angle to choose from and then they gave an insight into a rarely-seen self-destructive side as Dika Mem then received a two-minute suspension following a passive play turnover, which saw his team defending with just four court players for 40 seconds.

Left back Sidorowicz failed to capitalise on the advantage when he found himself worked into the attack from the right back position, only able to shoot straight at French goalkeeper Vincent Gerard.

Abalo then put the French two ahead again with 90 seconds remaining (25:23) and Suter promptly called a time out. As the clock saw 40 seconds left and Austria were not that quick in attack, Sidorowicz made up for his earlier miss, shooting across Gerard to bring his side within one (24:25).

The drama continued. It was now Gille’s turn to call a time out (21 seconds remaining), but Melvyn Richardson failed to get past a magnificent Portner, and with a handful of seconds remaining the Swiss goalkeeper managed to work the ball up to the big centre back Ben Romdhane Medhi, but his nine-metre shot was shot straight at Gerard.

“All the people who know handball know what a great job my team did today,” said Switzerland coach Michael Suter after the game. “It’s not a friendly, it’s a world championship game. It was an incredibly good game for our team. We had big chances at the end with two free throws from six metres, we didn’t shoot in the long corner. That was the only problem in the game.”

“They played a very good match, it was very tough for us to win this game, they have been called at the last moment and they deserve to be there because they played in the last week great handball,” said Gille. “It was a complicated game and we did not find our rhythm. We have to work, go back to work, but what we expected for the main round is to find our level that’s why we have to work a lot.”

hummel Player of the Match: Andy Schmid, Switzerland